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Fillings

Composite Filling

Made of: A mixture of fine resin particles.

Used for: Small and large fillings located on both front and back teeth.

Longevity: On average, may last five years, depending on how you maintain your teeth. Often lasts much longer.

Costs: More than amalgam filling.

Advantages:

  • Your fillings or inlay will match the color of your teeth.
  • A filling can be completed in one dental visit. An inlay may require two visits.
  • Composite fillings can bond directly to the tooth. This makes the tooth stronger than it would be with an amalgam filling.
  • Less drilling is involved than with amalgam fillings. That's because your dentist does not have to shape the space as much to hold the filling securely. The bonding process holds the composite resin in the tooth.

Disadvantages:

  • Although composite resins have become stronger and more resistant to wear, it's not clear whether they last as long as amalgam fillings under the pressure of chewing.
  • These fillings take more time to place. That's because they are usually placed in layers. The increased time and labor involved also contribute to the higher cost.


Amalgam

Made of: A mixture of silver, tin, zinc, copper and mercury. Mercury is nearly 50% of the mixture.

Used for: Fillings on back teeth.

Longevity: On average, last 5 years, usually longer.

Costs: The least expensive type of restorative material.

Advantages:

  • Amalgam fillings are strong. They can withstand the forces of chewing.
  • They are less costly than the alternatives.

Disadvantages:

  • Amalgam doesn't match the color of your teeth.
  • Amalgam fillings can corrode or tarnish over time. This can cause discoloration where the filling meets the tooth.
  • An amalgam filling does not bond (hold together) with your tooth.
  • Some people may be allergic to mercury or be concerned about its effects. Research shows that the amount of mercury exposure from fillings is similar to what people get from other sources in the environment.